A Matter of Fiction: Volume 2 Minus 1

A Matter of Fiction – Volume 2 Minus 1, a comic adventure, tells the story of William Harke, a shy bachelor, who is stuck in the rat race of modern society. After William meets Melinda, an unpredictable woman, and Theodore, an aging hippy scientist, he is shown that adventure isn't all fun and games. Through time, literally, William gets caught up in a conspiracy that only the three of them together can bring to an end.

As the three get separated, one chasing one clue while another chases another, they find that their lives are somewhat linked together. As one character disappears to here and then, they reappear to there and now. It is not until Teddy gets kidnapped that things start to get really strange.

Eventually when they are hired by a company that has its sights set on world domination, we think, it seems that their fate is a short one. Who owns this company? What is their big plan? Who are The Disciples? And who is making the next cup of tea?

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2. 2

If this scene of waking up, going to work, coming home, doing nothing productive and then going to bed only to rise the next day and do the same again seems very familiar to you then this story may give you hope that things, from time to time, do happen to break the routine of ordinary daily life. If however your life is nothing like this and your routine is nonexistent in the sense that excitement is around every corner then this story may just seem like an ordinary story and maybe fill you with some amusement from time to time. If you fall into the latter of these two then maybe you should also think, while reading this, where have I found the time to read a story and isn’t that a pretty ordinary thing to be doing?

Another Tuesday. Like every other day a cheap £3.99 alarm clock from Argos initiates its blistering tone, that can only be compared to that of an Irish banshee with a very bad hangover, at exactly 6am. Luckily, for William, he purchased the slightly more advanced model, not the £2.99 alarm clock, that has the added feature of a ‘snooze’ button. As usual William’s left hand came beating down on to the top of the alarm clock where the snooze button is located and therefore put the alarm clock to rest for another 15 minutes. As with most mornings William lay in bed pondering the fact that his snooze button seemed to be faulty, it never sent him back into a nice morning snooze. In fact it did what it did every day, silence the alarm clock for 15 minutes while William led in bed, anxious, awaiting the next moment of broken silence. This, as with every morning, was unbearable and never a good way to start the day. Stressed. At 6:15am when the banshee scream started its second round of attempting to blister William’s ear drums he sat up in bed and turned off the alarm. After a few moments William rose out of bed to start his smaller morning routine. This consists of getting out of bed, having a shower, brushing his teeth, putting on clothes, slapping some cheap 50p hair gel onto the top of his head and combing it into what some people would call a respectable look. Once this had been completed William would walk downstairs, have a coffee, look out his kitchen window to make sure the world was as he left it and then put on his shoes and head out to his car.

Unlike the previous drive home from work and unlike the last 2 weeks of the same journey William noticed that he made it to work in exactly 32 minutes. The temporary traffic lights were gone and the road that was being resurfaced looked and felt exactly like it did before. William parked his car in its usual spot, 4th up from the entrance to the staff car park on the right. After getting out and shutting his car door William made the approach to the gates of hell, or in this case, the entrance to the office of Funshock Holdings. Nothing unusual was apparent to William at this time, not at least until he got to the main door. It wouldn’t open. William gathered the strength to raise his head so that he was looking straight ahead rather than directly at his feet only to notice something very unusual on the door to the office building. The object itself, I should point out, was not unusual in anyway but it was its location and position that was unusual and out of the ordinary. There was an A4 piece of paper stuck to the inside of the door with a message printed on it. I should point out here that the door to the office building is made of glass, unfortunately for William he does not possess the power to see through solid objects to see what is on the other side. As with most things unusual William thought this to be very strange. The main door was locked and the only explanation he was given to this was the printed message on the A4 piece of paper that was stuck on the inside to the glass door that happened to be the only entrance to the office building in which he worked. ‘We would like to thank all our hard working staff for their commitment over the last 8 years of business. Today your assistance is not required. It is also not required for length of your natural life. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this but we will be sure to make it up to you at some point’. ‘Hmmmmmm’ William Harke thought to himself. It seemed rather obscure to him. How could Funshock Holdings possibly know that they would not require any member of its staff’s assistance for the rest of their natural life? It seemed quite logical to William that the length of each member of staff’s life differs quite a lot to the next member of staff’s. Surely it would have been more sensible to say that they would not require any member of staff’s assistance for the infinite future?

Before William could make sense of the concept rattling through his ordinary brain a heavy stomping sound attracted his attention. What his attention found attractive by this very dull sound is beyond the comprehension of any rocket scientist on the planet but attract it did and so William turned half circle to see what the sound behind him was coming from. William gawked. He stared. His instinct was telling him to close his eyes, rub them fanatically and then reopen them to make sure that what he was looking at was real and not just an hallucination caused by the shock of just finding out that he now had no job. He couldn’t, mainly because he was in a small state of shock. A clown was running directly at William. Big red shoes, baggy white trousers with different coloured spots on them, wild bushy green hair, a newly white painted face and of course a big red nose. What the clown was wearing on his upper torso is of no real relevance now. The clown was now running full speed at William, only 10 feet away. As the clown approached the still, shocked William Harke, it pulled back its right arm. The clowns hand clenched behind him into a fist. The clown was obviously not slowing down and seemed to have the determination to run straight past William and throw himself straight into the locked doors of the Funshock Holdings office building. This was in fact what the clown was intending to do although not before swinging his right arm forward and smashing his newly clenched fist directly into Williams’s ordinary nose. William fell to the ground and the clown went smashing head first through the glass door of the office building. The clown made it; he was inside the offices of Funshock Holding. William however was on the ground, cushioning his newly broken nose.

The lights were off but the benefit of a solid wall made of glass let in enough light to the reception area for anyone inside to see as clear as day. The clown didn’t hesitate. It ran to the staircase located behind the reception desk and continued at full speed up the stairs. Back outside the office building William had managed to get back on his feet and stand up straight. His nose was still bleeding but a tissue that he found in his pocket had now been ripped into two halves and each half stuffed up each nostril to act as a cork. The pain, however, did not stop with this act. William was looking back down to the end of the car park. A medium sized figure was stood at the other end. William thought he should do something but the fact that a clown had just punched him in the nose and went head first through a glass door was slightly clouding his judgement. The medium size figure stared at William for a few moments and then started walking towards him. This walk turned into a power walk and from this power walk into a jog and from this jog into a run. The medium sized figure was now very close to William and, as with the clown, running at full speed. William once again could not believe what he was seeing but the fact that he was seeing it meant that it must be real and he was in fact seeing what he was seeing. The medium sized figure was a medium sized man, not of much different build to William and he was dressed as a cowboy. The cowboy didn’t turn to look at William as he ran past him, through the broken glass door, to the staircase behind the reception desk and up the stairs.  What he did do, however, as he passed William was smash a not so medium sized teapot over William’s head. William thought to himself, as once again he went falling to the ground, was maybe he should have taken a bit more notice and try to step out of the cowboy’s way when he noticed that he had started running. This thought however never occurred to William in advance so there he was, alone in a car park, with no job, a broken nose with tissue in each nostril and now what seemed to be a fractured skull. William couldn’t be sure of the fact that he had a fractured skull, but the pain throbbing through his entire head told him this must be the case.

Runchball General Hospital was situated exactly a quarter of a mile from the Funshock Holdings office building. William arrived there feeling very concussed.

‘Good day sir, how may I help you?’. William blacked out and fell to the floor. Two hours later William opened his eyes. He found himself lying in a bed which he concluded was definitely not his and, therefore, presumed he was laying in a ward within Runchball General Hospital. William was correct. After falling to the floor in the waiting area of A&E a nurse and two doctors had moved him out of the way mainly due to the fact that he was in the way and because he was causing quite a mess with the blood oozing out of the top of his head. It took the onsite janitor roughly 5 minutes to clean up the mess William had left behind but peculiarly took him longer than that to decide which of his 3 mops he would use to tackle the job.  The job however was not in the mood to be tackled and if you feel the need to enter the waiting room of the A&E department at Runchball General Hospital you will in fact see a slight blood stain in front of the reception desk. Over the years many patients attending the A&E department have tried to sue William Harke over the unsightly stain he left behind on the claim that the sight of blood makes them nauseous and the fact they are feeling nauseous means they feel worse off than when they originally entered the hospital. Luckily though for William his defending solicitor always argued the fact that it was not a blood stain left behind but a tomato ketchup stain left behind by a female nurse that walked through the waiting area on her lunch break while eating a hamburger that she felt the need to cover in tomato ketchup just moments before. As forensics teams are very costly no judge would order the examination of the stain to prove that it was indeed the blood of William Harke and therefore dismissed all claims against him. William always thought this to be a very lucky outcome but not as lucky as the fact that 2 days after the last claim against him was dismissed in court, his solicitor died in the waiting area of the A&E department within Runchball General Hospital. The point that this was lucky for William, in that he didn’t have to pay the very large solicitor invoice was obviously not so lucky for the solicitor. William’s solicitor was in fact only attending the hospital to have his left eye checked over by a doctor as 25 minutes before-hand he was at home cooking dinner for his wife and managed to splash his eye with boiling oil from the frying pan in which he was attempting to fry some breasts of chicken. I should point out that the solicitor did not die of having oil burns in his left eye. As it was the solicitor’s dinner time at home it was also the dinner break of a female nurse at the hospital. Somehow she had managed to spill tomato ketchup in the waiting area of A&E and it was this ketchup that the solicitor slipped on, fell, hit his head on the corner of the reception desk and continued to the floor. The impact of the desk against his head did not kill him, it was the shock of seeing the red liquid on the floor, which he presumed to be blood and sadly had a terrible fear of.  The shock of this fear stopped his heart and that was that. In hindsight, if the solicitor had gone into the hospital with two working eyes he would have noticed the ketchup on the floor and merely avoided it rather than slip on it and come into close contact with what he thought was blood. Although if the solicitor did have two working eyes in which to see the spilt ketchup he would not have been in the hospital to slip on it in the first place!

William sat up in bed and looked around the ward. In the corner on the opposite side of the room was a man having a cast checked over that covered his entire left leg. Next to this man was a lady attempting to position a wheelchair close enough to her bed for her to slip into. Next to this lady in the other corner opposite William was a man getting very agitated by something on the TV screen in front of him. William turned to look to his side to see a very ordinary looking woman in bed asleep. The final bed behind the sleeping lady could not be seen by William, the patient had pulled the curtain around the area so that they could not be seen. While this was obviously very rude and unsociable of the patient William didn’t have time to care as a large crash distracted him and made his head whip back to the lady attempting to get into her wheelchair. The wheelchair had decided to slip away from her rather than let her slip into it. Two nurses came rushing in and helped the lady into the chair and whisked her away into the direction of the nearest toilet. No one can work out why the wheelchair decided this was a better idea than the ladies but either way it got Williams attention, the incident also however managed to wake up the lady that was laid asleep in her bed.

‘I feel like my life has been spent in here, nothing to do but sleep.’ Proclaimed the lady who was now sat up in the bed next to William. Without hesitation William turned to her and simply asked ‘how long have you been here?’.

‘About 16 hours, feels like an eternity’ said the lady. William found it slightly rude that she should lie to him straight away about something so small. The fact that she will not live for eternity means that she has no idea what eternity feels like and therefore cannot say that 16 hours feels like eternity. Eternity however will turn round and say that 16 hours in a hospital bed does in fact feel like itself but William was not privy to this information.

‘What is your name? Mine is William Harke but my friends call me William!’

‘Nice to meet you William Harke. Sorry, I would call you William but I have only known you for 25 seconds and it seems very rude of me to presume at this time that we are going to be friends. My name is Melinda Seefork and I can tell you that my friends call me Mel. Would you like to call me Mel?’ replied Melinda Seefork.

‘Uh, well that would be nice, I think. It saves a lot of breath compared to saying Melinda and due to my concussed state I feel I should save every breath I currently have. That was a very odd thing for you to say.’ Questioned William.

‘What was?’ asked Melinda.

‘That you would presume that we wouldn’t become friends. A lot of people make friends in hospitals you know. Well my Nan did at least on all of her visits.’ Answered William

‘Well, I cannot predict the future can I?’

William thought about this for a moment and realised that he had already lost this friendly argument, not that we should call it friendly as currently Melinda and William are not friends as Melinda had kindly pointed out. ‘So, what are you here for?’ William replied, ignoring the fact that he was plainly asked a very simple question. An ordinary brain, like William’s, was able to tell that Melinda’s question was rhetorical and a further response would not end this conversation well. What Melinda’s ordinary brain did not know was that her question was not rhetorical as soon to be discovered; she would be able to predict parts of the future. If William had carried on Melinda would have replied ‘not yet but soon’ but this would have led into a deeper conversation that no one should start while led next to a complete stranger in a small hospital ward.

‘Well I don’t really know why I am here to be honest. I only remember something strange happening to me and I woke up here 16 hours ago then fell back to sleep as what I did remember was too strange to think about at the time with the headache I had and all.’ Melinda quickly stated as she swung her legs down to the side of her bed so she could sit and face William.

‘That is strange’ stated William, looking rather confused.

‘What is? I haven’t told you what I remembered.’

‘I know but it is under strange circumstances that I am here also.’

‘So......?’

‘So, nothing. Just strange that we have both ended up here lying next to each other in a hospital ward having both had something strange happen to us to make us be here. That’s all.’

‘You think too much!’

‘Perhaps you’re right, I think I will go and get a drink of water’

William got out of bed and wandered into the corridor his ward was connected to. He turned right and walked a few paces towards to the water dispenser. He filled up the little plastic cup that he had taken from the stack next to the water dispenser and wandered back into his ward. As William approached his bed he couldn’t help but realise that Melinda was sat up right in his bed, as if it was her own. William ignored this, placed his water down on the cabinet next to his bed and sat at the end as if he was a family member coming to visit Melinda. ‘So what happened to you to get you here?’ asked Melinda.

‘Well you won’t believe me.’

‘Go on, it can’t be as strange as what I remember’.

‘OK, but try not to laugh at me please.’

‘OK’

‘Well I went to work as normal this morning but couldn’t get in.........’

‘Why not?’ Melinda quickly asked, cutting William off mid sentence.

‘Oh, well, uh, the door was locked. I think I have been sacked.’

‘Oh.... So what happened then?’

‘This is the strange bit. A clown punched me in the nose followed by a cowboy that smashed me over the head with....’

‘A teapot???’ asked Melinda, once again cutting off William as he was speaking.

‘How did you kn....’

‘That’s what happened to me. Apart from the clown. I never saw a clown, just a cowboy.’

Apart from getting very irritated by Melinda cutting him off as he was talking William was completely stunned with what she was saying to cut him off with. ‘How could this be?’ thought William. Melinda was right, William thought too much.

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